A Record Store Is Born

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October 17, 2014 by 45spin

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Well it’s been awhile since my last post, and my only excuse is that I have been working non-stop on the store since July.  And as a lot of you that have followed my progress through the beginning when I had purchased the building last December it’s been one wild ride. Starting with having to totally renovate this historic building that had been sitting empty and neglected for years it was truly an adventure all on it’s own. Once that major project was done we then had to make it into a real record store and get the doors open for business.

Now when one dreams about opening a record store it always begins and ends with people looking at music, talking about music and then maybe buying music in a very casual atmosphere with music playing non-stop. It’s all about music right?
Now, what I totally underestimated while I was having this unbelievable cool record store dream is that there is a whole bunch things that have to happen before you can even begin to have that experience. Things like, vendors, suppliers, payroll, state taxes, federal taxes, POS (point of sales) systems, inventory system, accounting packages, then accountant, legal contracts, then lawyer, banking, then banker, credit lines, more bankers, networking, promotion, social media, store fixtures, printing, bags, boxes, web site, music associations, Record Store Day approval, hiring & training staff, to name just a few of things that needed to be done.

And I think I can safely say I just might have everything done, that is until I find out what I don’t know yet which has been a lot of things as I am finding out.  So besides having to do all of those “Work” things it really has been a blast, I actually spent most of today hanging out, talking about music, ringing up a few sales and listening to music. Just like the perfect dream that started this whole thing.

So here are a couple of observations about the record business I’ve had after being in business for a mere six weeks,

1.) Most of my customers buy vinyl records!  Used vinyl is king because of the outrageous prices that some of the new releases & reissues command. Do record companies really need to charge $35.98 for latest Kiss reissues?

2.) Most of my new vinyl sales are for artists back catalog reissued albums, I sell some newly released albums but overall it is a very small percentage. When people come in wanting to fork over $20-35 dollars for a new album, they want an album that they will truly will like.

3.) My three big sellers in new album releases so far would be Atmosphere, Jenny Lewis and Ryan Adams. If I were to combine all of their sales together I will have sold more reissues of Led Zeppelin II than all of those new new album releases combined.

4.) Interesting thing about new releases is that when a new album is released most of my customers have already streamed it first and then if they really like it they might come in and buy it after they have played it for awhile. Not a lot of people heading to their local record store on Tuesday when all of the new releases come out as steaming has become the go to when checking out new music.

5.) Facebook has become one of the best ways to get people to connect with the store and to give it a real personality. Web sites however how good they are do not really engage customers they way that Facebook can. To do this well you need to realize that Facebook is not for selling but for just connecting with your customer.

6.) People come to record stores because they like to share their love of music with others.  Ask somebody what they like to listen to and you have a friend for life. Community matters when it comes to music, from concerts, to blogs, to shared playlists. We all love to talk about music and it’s even better yet when its shared with someone who is just as passionate about it. That’s why records stores exist to become the hub of the local community they serve and to serve as a place to connect.

7.) Jazz is very much alive and well in the record community and those that collect Jazz are some of the most passionate collectors there are. Mingus, Coltrane, Parker, Davis those records are just as hot now as they were when they were first released.

8.) Great record stores find a way to help the local music scene grow.  If you want to be “True Local Record Store” you need to truly support your local musicians.

9.) Local record stores do not really compete with each other but compete with downloading, streaming, Amazon and a whole bunch of other on-line competitors. The trick in saving the local record store is for the store to become a destination and not just a place to buy music as there are far easier ways for our customers to buy music that to come to a physical store. Record Store Day is a great step in making record stores a destination but it is just a start, we need need to do things that truly make us different in the minds of our customers.

I’ll leave you with a quote about record stores that Jeff Tweedy wrote for Record Store Day,

“My introduction to all this great music and to ‘the music business’ came from hanging around, and eventually, working at independent record stores. Nothing beats browsing in your favorite store, listening to music, finding something new or old that you’ve been searching for, all that. And without these stores, there’s just no way Wilco would still be around.”

– Jeff Tweedy

Thanks for reading my post.

20 thoughts on “A Record Store Is Born

  1. J. says:

    Man! That place looks incredible … all … those … records! Good work and continued good luck!

  2. stephen1001 says:

    The shop looks amazing – congrats!

  3. What a lot of work! But is sounds like you are getting some of the satisfaction you hoped for. Long may it continue, with vinyl-loving customers and no more aggravation that absolutely necessary.
    Congratulations.

  4. 1537 says:

    I’m so pleased for you – it all just looks amazing. How on earth do you avoid taking all the LPs home with you at night time.

    Really enjoyed your observations on what sells too – unless I get totally smitten with an LP cover, or song titles I tend to listen to stuff first too; I think you’re completely right, it’s a price thing I want to be sure I’ll like something before I fork out for it.

    Did you put a local section together too?

    • 45spin says:

      You know bringing a few albums home hasn’t been a problem, the real problem has been bringing a few albums home every night as my wife looks at piles of records everywhere as i no longer have any more space on my bookcase.

      We did put a local section together and we let the local musicians stock it and then they keep most of the profits from the sale, we will be starting in-store performance next month at the bar next door as they serve Beer and have a stage fully equipped with Sound & Lights.

      I sure wish the record companies would realize that they need to be more reasonable with this resurgence in vinyl as keeping record prices too high hurts everybody in the long run.

      Thanks for responding my friend.

      • 1537 says:

        No problem, I’m absolutely stoked for you.

        Just out of interest do box sets sell? or are they too expensive for you to buy in as stock to make the risk worthwhile?

      • 45spin says:

        Great question, I do sell box sets like The Beatles Mono box set, Led Zeppelin’s many box sets and and a few others that seem to have a lot of press and appeal. As a record collector it’s hard not order EVERYTHING however I’m learning that the best guide to selecting what music to bring into the store is just by listening to what our customers ask us for. Brings new meaning to the phrase “The Customer Is Always Right” and interestingly enough every time I’ve ordered stuff in that customers have talked about they have bought it.

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  6. purplemary54 says:

    It looks so awesome! You’ve really done some great work. If I lived in your area, I would hang out there as much as my finances let me. Or I’d try to bum a job off you.

    One way to help the local music scene is to do what my local record store does. Fingerprints holds small, in-store concerts. I think they chose their new(ish) space in Long Beach for precisely that purpose. If you’ve got the room, you should think about doing that.

    • 45spin says:

      Thanks, And I wish you lived closer as I could hire you.

      I think your idea is a great one and one that I have been thinking about for small acoustic acts of a couple of performers. As there is a bar next door to the store that has a stage, sound system & lights I’m thinking that just might be a better option for bigger & louder bands.

      Nice to hear from you 🙂

  7. You are my hero.

    I spent 10 years of my young adult life working at record stores, first Sam Goody, then my beloved years as a Tower Records employee/buyer. Without a doubt, my years making minimum wage at those record stores were my best working years ever, and quite possibly my best all-around years, too. The friends I made, both in coworkers and in customers, forged out of our shared passionate love/obsession of music and sharing music and talking about music, these are my friend-soul mates, my lifer friends. I would love to wake up tomorrow and find out that suddenly my advertising job had transformed into a record store job.

    The closest I’ve come to that kind of music connection/connecting with others via music is via the blogging world – but I do miss that in-person part.

    I visit and passionately support our local record store which is walking distance from my home…they are celebrating their first year here and having some local bands play in-store. I agree that in order to be a success you have to support local music, and be a real and active part of the community.

    I wish you so much luck and success, and really hope you write more about the experience and continue writing about music, too.

    I love that Ryan and Jenny’s albums were the top sellers of the new stuff 🙂

    I also LOVE this quote from your post: “So besides having to do all of those “Work” things it really has been a blast, I actually spent most of today hanging out, talking about music, ringing up a few sales and listening to music. Just like the perfect dream that started this whole thing.”

    That’s what all the hard work is for. xoxo

    • 45spin says:

      And you are now my hero,

      WOW, you were there during the boom years of the record industry working for Tower Records, that my friend is pretty damn awesome. I have only heard stories about the business back from some of the local ex-Musicland & Sam Goody folks that worked for the corporate headquarters here in Minneapolis and to say they had a great time would be a vast understatement 🙂

      So interesting enough you are now in the world of advertising and I have just left a Broadcast video camera company I founded to start a record store. It seems you have a lot more sense than I do in a lot of ways 😉

      BTW, I have been listening to the new Jenny Lewis album ever since it came out and I still can’t get enough of it. It has replaced “Under The Black Light” as my favorite from her.

  8. J Haeske says:

    Looking very good indeed. I guess I would buy that Leonhard Cohen album first if I were to walk in there today. But sadly this will have to wait a while. J Haeske

  9. The Prudent Groove says:

    HOT DAMN!! Looks amazing! Many congrats and best of luck!!

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